Dr. George Bebawi came to my church last night and lectured on the differences between Christianity and Islam. I was pretty impressed with his ability to “bash” Islam without really bashing Islam. This skill comes from his tenure at Cambridge University, where he taught Christian and Islam students in a very politically correct environment.
I won’t go into every point he hit on, but I will tell you what I took away from it. One of his first points was how the word Islam itself means submission, more specifically submission to God’s law, whereas Christianity focuses on God himself, manifest in Christ here on Earth. If you are constantly thinking about the law and what’s right and wrong, you tend to be thinking about yourself instead of God, thus you are not drawing closer to Him but further away.
Another thing he said along these lines is that Islam views right and wrong in terms of reward and punishment. You are supposed to do the right things not because they’re the right things, but because you’ll receive a reward. Likewise, don’t refrain from evil because it’s against God, but because it leads to punishment. On the contrary, Christianity teaches that God is love. This simply means, as Dr. George put it, that you do good deeds because they’re good, not because you’ll receive a reward for doing them (although that is naturally the outcome). We are made in the image and likeness of God, and He sent His son to die on the cross for us only because He loves us, so we are to do what’s right only because we love Him.
Lastly, I gained a deeper realization for how Islam differs from other nations that the USA has had trouble with (i.e. the Russians, Germans, Japanese, even the IRA – although I don’t know how much that has affected Americans). Other nations have risen up out of patriotism, which can be quelled with alliances, shifts in power, and even negotiation. However, Islam is different, and I think this is by far the deepest and most important point having to do with all of this. Islam is not based in patriotism, it is based in religion. There are no alliances, no negotiation. Muslims are ultimately instructed that they will only be in the house of peace when everyone on Earth is either Muslim, a slave, or dead. Until then, it is the house of war.
I read a book called The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and The Crusades) by a man named Robert Spencer, and since then I’ve been letting these ideas sink in. It was great to hear Dr. George, an expert on the subject, speak at our church. His topics really paralleled the book I read, and I would highly recommend it if you are interested in learning more.